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tv   Tavis Smiley  PBS  January 24, 2012 2:00pm-2:30pm PST

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tavis: good evening from los angeles. tonight we remember the life and legacy of a remarkable woman of music, etta james. the legendary singer passed away at the age of 83. she joined us for a memory -- memorable conversation. we will be revisiting that conversation including the iconic hit, "at last." we are glad you joined us. >> every community has martin luther king boulevard. is the cornerstone we all know.
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it is not just a street or boulevard but a place where wal- mart stands together with your community to make everyday better. >> and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. tavis: in 2007 etta james joya does for a conversation we will never forget. -- joined us for a conversation we will never forget. she played a terrific selection of cover songs featuring some of the greatest artists in music history. at last you made it to my
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program. >> i finally made it to your program. gutavis: when the people at the playboy jazz festival asked if i would be interested in talking to etta james, i laugh at them would i be interested? i am so glad to have you here. >> i always said, he is such a great guy, the way he interviews them. there are certain people i would like to talk to, and i can tell with the way they talk to other people, i would like to talk to them. i would love to be on his show. all of the sudden i got a phone call a. tavis smiley once you on the show -- wants you on the show. tavis: this is going to be a
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mutual admiration society. did you are one old sister. prince, marvin gaye, you pick some timely stuff to cover. >> that is the stuff to cover. everybody i usually sing those songs, i love them and the stuff they recorded. we were all sites. -- tight. we went on the road, and we knew he was going to be a star because he had the star attitude, but i always said, i want to do something he did, so all of a sudden he started doing it. i am one of those kind of people. somebody will do a great song, and i want to do it. >> everybody has their own reasons. what is it about that song that made you want to cover it of all the stuff martin has done? >> because it said, what is
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going on. i love those kinds of stories, so if it can tell you what is going on, i want to know about it, and and i want to sing about it. everything he has ever done, i wanted to do its. blacks i probably should not tell you this, given that i -- >> i probably should not tell you this, given that i am talking to etta james at last. we have these dinner parties with ridiculously stupid conversations, but we spend hours philosophizing about these questions, and the question the other night was what is the greatest song ever written. the greatest song ever written, and my money went to what is going on, because the lyrics around that song are timeless. the lyrics are as poignant now as they were then, and god
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forbid, unfortunately, the time was to come, but the lyrics are unforgettable. >> they go on and on. stardust, song said were made back in the days. all of those kinds of things. he is saying everything that needs to be said. he is already saying it. i felt funny. i do not go into a song and say, i am going to do this is because i think i can do it better. i come from a place where i love the song myself. i want to know, can i sing that song because i love it so much. >> prince, what about this?
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>> prince is something else. i met his father. i worked in minneapolis years ago. i was kind of a young jazz singer, and we worked at a young jazz club, and his dad, i think his name was nelson, but his dad was a jazz piano player, and i remembered that later on. that is the same prince whose dad was a jazz piano player, so from the time i saw him, i am one of those kinds of people who likes everything that is out. if the monkey is playing a trombone, i want to see it. tavis: i would like to see that. >> i just love him, and when i saw him on the show, i said, uh-
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oh, tavis is getting ready to get him, and then you came not so nice to him, and he answered so nicely. i said, and that guy knows what to say. tavis: he is smart and talented. he just did a london store. 30 days in london. one more question on the music. i mentioned john lennon's "imagine." what made you want to cover it? >> i love the beatles, and that is a song that is very strange. it has got strange melodies in it, and i said, i would like to sing this. i cannot remember whether one of the guys army said, i do not think i would do that it -- one of the guys said, i do not think i would do that if i was you.
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i said, let me try to do that. all of these people, except prince is so young, but the beatles and the stones and all the guys from europe and stuff, i knew them well. they knew me well. i was a rock-and-roll singer at 15, so they attach themselves to me. i am getting ready to work on the album now. i got something on there i am going to dedicate to you. >> i want to tell all of my friends if i stopped speaking, you understand why. i'm david walked past you and not say something, because -- i may walk past you and not say something. >> i am going to do it at the playboy festival. my husband said, why don't you do it with tavis over there?
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okay then. tavis: i do not want to mess with your house. it is not that serious. >> he said, why are you dedicating a song to tavis? >> i am going to be in my box seat watching you. i remember the classic song "what's going on." and is not as high, i would not put it at second place. you talk about a classic song, when my producer went on the internet to every possible site he could find about music, "at last"is the first dance song at weddings, bar none. it is the most dense to first steps song at weddings all over the world. did you know that?
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>> people come to me at the airport, my sister is getting married, and she wants you to come thing. i said, where is your sister act. she is in anchorage, alaska, and i am down in l.a., but everybody has something. i do not care how young they are or old, and they see me in the market, in wal-mart, they say, last?" she seeing sing "at tavis: you still love song? there are burned a few people who can take a song -- used all the song. there are very few people who can take a song and make it their song.
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good >> there are so many women who do that. i remember the time i went to a club in denver, and nancy wilson and i gotng some sohong, up and have the nerve to sing it. she said, wait a minute. you do not be doing songs of people. you do not go in a club -- >> nancy was just here a week ago. >> she was like that. i know washington was like that too. she said, i am the queen. don't you dare sing my songs. she said, you never get on the song when an artist is in the house and to dedicate a meson -- dedicate a song. i was stupid. i dedicated a song and sit, and
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she bitched. you do not do that. just be quiet and be glad you are doing it. tavis: you look amazing. we were joking about how comfortable you are crossing your legs. we were talking about why you are so comfortable. >> i never thought about it, but i thought about six who are cool and fine, but i would have my legs -- about girls who are cool and fine, and i would have my legs. i said the main thing i want to do, that is why i got these bhutan -- these boots on. tavis: you got your legs crossed and are showing those boots. we hope you enjoyed the conversation as much as we have. in addition to performing her iconic hit, she also performed a
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second song we will share with you for the first time, so here is etta james and her band with "sugar on the floor" followed by a special performance of "at last." >> ♪ you are a stranger to me,
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still you give me your life ♪ ♪i toss it into one side still you are sweeter to me ♪ ♪ when will i be sure? ♪ it storms where you are ♪ ♪but my lips do not burn ♪ i feel so insecure when you try to be kind ♪
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more, do likesome sugar on the floor? ♪ i feel like sugar on the floor ♪ ♪ sugar on the floor know you at you now only want to find mea ♪ leavel i need a reason to the past behind me ♪ ♪ there is no easy way ♪
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to learns no easy way how to fly ♪ i hope that i could care ♪ ♪ when i turn around you are there ♪ should i ask, should i asked for more ♪ like sugar on the floor ♪ i feel like sugar on the floor ♪ ♪ i feel like sugar on the floor ♪ i feel like sugar on the floor
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♪ ♪ oh, yeah, h, yeah ♪ sugar, i am laying on the floor, sugar on the floor ♪ ♪ it is warm where you are ♪ i wish we could be closer ♪ because i am leaving in a dream that i cannot show you ♪
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me ♪ are sweeter toda ♪ when will i be sure ♪ i want to know when i will be sure ♪ ♪ because i feel like sugar on the floor ♪ ♪ i feel like sugar on the floor ♪ ♪ i feel like sugar on the floor ♪ floor ♪on the ♪ feel like i have been laying on the ground ♪ believe me, i know what it
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feels like being down on the floor ♪ i am sugar on the floor ♪ ♪ my mother told me, she said never let nothing get in your way ♪ ♪ always feel like i miss my mother, and i miss my father ♪ ♪ i feel like i am laying right down on the ground ♪ oh, hey, sugar ♪ floor ♪ on the
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♪ sugar, sugar on the floor ♪ floor ♪gar on the ♪ [applause] ♪ [piano solo]
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♪at last, my love has come along ♪ my lonely days are over ♪ and life is like a song ♪ oh, yeah, at last
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♪ the skies above are blue ♪ my heart was wrapped up in clovers the night i looked at you ♪ i found a dream that i could speak to
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♪ a dream that i can call my own ♪ i found a thrill to rest my cheek to ♪ a thrill that i have never known ♪ oh, yeah when you smile, you smile ♪ oh, and then the spell was cast
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♪ and here we are in heaven ♪for you are mine at last ♪ ♪ at last ♪ [applause]
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tavis: etta james began singing right here and who in her church in los angeles when she was just five years old. she would go on to become one of the most enduring voices of her generation and a big star. etta james, gone too soon as the age of 73 but a woman whose life will live on with us. as always, keep the faith. >> for more information on today's show, visit tavis smiley on pbs.org. x during the next time for an
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interview with terrence howard. no tracks every community has a martin luther king boulevard -- >> every community have a martin luther king boulevard. it is a place where wal-mart stands together with your community to make every day better. >> and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. ♪ thank you. ♪
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